Career Development

20 Tips on How To Organize Your Desk for Maximum Productivity

February 22, 2021

Maintaining an organized workspace can improve your productivity as well as the quality of your work. It can also have a powerful impact on your mental state, allowing you to focus more effectively while reducing stress and anxiety. Organizing your desk is a great first step to creating a clutter-free office environment. In this article, we discuss why it's so important to have an organized desk and share 20 easy tips to organize your desk starting today.

Related: 12 Motivational Techniques for the Workplace

Why is it important to have an organized desk?

Keeping your desk clean and organized can have a powerful impact on your productivity and focus. In addition to being visually appealing, an organized desk can reduce stress and anxiety, leaving you with a clearer, more productive mind. These things, in turn, can improve the quality of your work and your overall performance in the workplace.

Related: 7 Steps to Organize Your Paperwork and Declutter Your Desk

How to organize your desk at work

Here are 20 ways you can easily organize your desk, starting today.

  1. Remove everything from your desk.
  2. Clean your space.
  3. Sort everything from your desk.
  4. Label everything.
  5. Tether your cables.
  6. Hide electronics.
  7. Throw away pens you don't use.
  8. Create a charging station for electronics.
  9. Segment your desk.
  10. Decide what goes in drawers and what stays on your desk.
  11. Designate locations for specific items.
  12. Get an organizer.
  13. Use unlikely space.
  14. Sort papers daily.
  15. Minimize personal items.
  16. Embrace free space.
  17. Prioritize your workflow.
  18. Get a trash can.
  19. Keep a notebook close by.
  20. Reassess frequently.

Related: Best Home Office Organizational Ideas

1. Remove everything from your desk

The easiest way to organize your desk is to start with a fully blank desk. Clear everything from the top of your desk and remove items from drawers. Place everything on another desk, chair or even the floor so you can easily short through the items later.

2. Clean your space

Once you've removed everything from your desk, take the opportunity to clean your desktop and wipe down your monitor and other equipment, removing all dust.

3. Sort everything from your desk

Divide everything from your desk into two piles: things you want to keep and things you want to throw away. When you finish, the things you intend to keep at your desk should be the bare essentials.

4. Label everything

Use a label maker to label files so you have a specific place for all of your paperwork that can be easily found in the future. If you have cables under or inside your desk, you may want to consider labeling them as well.

5. Tether your cables

If there are tangled cables under your desk within eyesight, they may pose a distraction that could impact your focus. Minimize the distraction by using zip ties to bundle your cables together and then, if possible, tuck them away somewhere they won't be noticeable or place something on top of or in front of them.

6. Hide electronics

If you had electronics like a router or modem sitting on your desk, look for another location for them. This could be in a closet, drawer or a discreet location on the floor.

7. Throw away pens you don't use

Throw away any pens or pencils that you don't use. Keep only one or two on your desk and place the remainder in a drawer or closet until you need them.

8. Create a charging station for electronics

If you find that you are regularly charging your phone during the day, create a charging station that's out of sight so your phone won't distract you when you're doing focused work. The ideal location is in a drawer. If this isn't possible, consider placing it on a shelf nearby or behind your monitor.

9. Segment your desk

Starting with a blank desktop makes it easier for you to assess the best layout for your items. While you may spend the vast majority of your day on your computer, you will still need an area where you can review paperwork, take notes, write checks or add to your to-do list. Based on where your desk will be, determine what the best layout should be to optimize productivity and comfort.

10. Decide what goes in drawers and what stays on your desk

As you're placing items back onto or in your desk, decide which items should go into drawers and which can stay on your desktop. Ideally, you should only keep items on your desk if you know you'll be using them daily. Otherwise, it's best to place them out of sight in a drawer.

11. Designate locations for specific items

For the items both on your desk and in your drawers, designate specific locations for the different items and make sure you return them to that location after each use. This will reduce clutter and wasted time looking for objects.

12. Get an organizer

Get an organizer for your desktop to make it easy to sort papers and hold pens, your to-do list and other items. An organizer can be incredibly valuable for keeping your office supplies in one location and accessible on your desk.

13. Use unlikely space

There is always more storage space in your office if you have a need. Window sills could be used to house pencil holders or trays for incoming mail and space on walls could be used for corkboards. Evaluate whether you need more space for getting organized and how you could use your office most efficiently.

14. Sort papers daily

At the end of each day, review your papers and determine what needs to be filed, shredded or handled immediately. This can help you avoid a large and overwhelming accumulation of paperwork and let you make a habit out of having a clean desk.

15. Minimize personal items

While family photos or vacation souvenirs can provide positive feelings, they can also create a distraction that can pull your focus away from your work, even if you don't realize it. Limit yourself to no more than three personal items on your desk.

16. Embrace free space

Keep an area the size of a piece of paper free on your dominate side as a designated workspace. This makes it easy to review and sign documents at a moment's notice without first having to clear items from your desk.

17. Prioritize your workflow

The only paperwork on your desk should be relevant to projects and activities that are active. The easy way to determine what paperwork should remain on your desk is to divide it between paperwork that's important and urgent, urgent but not necessarily important, important but not necessarily urgent and non-urgent and not important. You may even want to consider having file folders on your desk on a shelf nearby labeled for each of these categories.

18. Get a trash can

Put a trash can under or next to your desk so you can immediately throw away pens, notes and other items as soon as you don't need them. Even better, consider adding a small recycling bin so you can immediately discard paper or plastic items that you no longer need and separate them for recycling.

19. Keep a notebook close by

Keep a notebook close by on top of your desk so you can quickly and easily write reminders for yourself or add items to your to-do list. Having a notebook at hand will help you to keep those important pieces of information consolidated in one place.

20. Reassess frequently

Keeping your desk free from clutter will require regular upkeep. In addition to sorting papers daily, scan your desk frequently to ensure everything that is there should be there. Make a habit of straightening up your desk weekly to ensure it remains clutter-free.

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